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Walter Jackson Bate, in his biography of Keats, has writers, critics, readers, have approached Keats during the last century, on one quality in his writing they have been completely united.
They have all been won by an economy and power of phrase excelled only by Shakespeare." This poet whose greatest ambition was to he "among the English poets" is not only preeminent among those of the past, but for well over a century he has continued to be the yardstick by which those who have written poetry in our language can measure their success. He remains a wellspring to which all of us might go to refresh our belief in the value of this art.
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Essential KeatsSelected by Philip Levine
By John Keats
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright ©2006 John Keats
All right reserved.
Oh Chatterton! how very sad thy fate!
- Oh Chatterton! how very sad thy fate!
- Dear child of sorrow! son of misery!
- How soon the film of death obscur'd that eye,
- Whence genius wildly flash'd, and high debate!
- How soon that voice, majestic and elate,
- Melted in dying murmurs! O how nigh
- Was night to thy fair morning! Thou didst die
- A half-blown flower, which cold blasts amate.
- But this is past. Thou art among the stars
- Of highest heaven; to the rolling spheres
- Thou sweetly singest -- nought thy hymning mars
- Above the ingrate world and human fears.
- On earth the good man base detraction bars
- From thy fair name, and waters it with tears!
O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell
- O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
- Let it not be among the jumbled heap
- Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep, --
- Nature's observatory -- whence the dell,
- Its flowery slopes, its river's crystal swell,
- May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
- 'Mongst boughs pavillion'd, where the deer's swift leap
- Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
- But though I'll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
- Yet the sweetconverse of an innocent mind,
- Whose words are images of thoughts refin'd,
- Is my soul's pleasure; and it sure must be
- Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
- When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.
Excerpted from Essential Keats by John Keats Copyright ©2006 by John Keats. Excerpted by permission.
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